Debating Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Risks vs The Right to Choose

Mar 6, 2016

The debate over physician-assisted suicide came to the fore in New Hampshire last month when a Concord man asked about it on a national stage. Jim Kinhan, who himself has terminal cancer, asked Hillary Clinton at a Manchester town hall how she would, if elected president, use her executive power to bring attention to the issue. The conversation made news, but the discussion about aid in dying has been ongoing for decades, legalized first in Oregon twenty years ago, and in California just last year. And while only five states in all have passed a law, some in the Granite State hope that New Hampshire will be the sixth. But there is a lot of debate over the risks of allowing the option at all, and two bills seeking to form a study committee on the topic have passed through the legislature, only to be vetoed by Governor Hassan.  However, advocates are hopeful that this year's study committee bill has enough additional detail to pass her desk, and pave the way for a possible legalization bill in a future term.

GUESTS:

  • Dan Feltes, Democratic State Senator from Concord. He is a sponsor of SB426, which seeks to create a study committee about physician-assisted suicide. 
  • Jim Kinhan, a retired clinical social worker and co-founder of Human Dynamics Associates in Concord. He has colon cancer and has been on a chemotherapy cycle for almost three years.
  • Mike Skibbie, policy director for the New Hampshire's Disability Rights Center.
  • Rob Spencer, doctor certified in anesthesiology, pain management, hospice and palliative medicine. He has been involved in end-of-life care for more than 30 years.